This weekend Mr. S. and I attended a friend's birthday party that had an interesting theme- Día de los Muertos. I made several standard appetizers but wanted to make at least one appetizer that went along with the theme of the party so I decided to try my hand at some mini spiced corn empanadas from my "In The Small Kitchen" cookbook (by Cara Eisenpress & Phoebe Lapine). They turned out to be pretty easy to make although my pastry crimping skills left a bit to be desired (next time I just might use a gyoza press so it looks a bit more polished). Anyhow, the empanadas turned out tasty and we had a fab time at the party. The guests' costumes were fantastic and the hostesses did a great job decorating the house with colorful flores de papel, altars for the deceased, sugar skulls and miniature skeletons. What a night!
Spiced Corn Filling
2 T unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
One 15-ounce can corn kernels, rinsed & drained
1 t ground cumin
1 t salt
dash cayenne pepper
1. In a medium saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and the shallot and cook until fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic. 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add the corn, cumin, salt and cayenne. Sauté gently until the corn is hot and the flavors are melded. 3 to 5 minutes.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t salt
8 T ( 1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup very cold water
1 T white wine vinegar
1 egg, beaten
1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, stir the flour and salt together with a fork. Add the butter cubes, and with your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture will start to look like crumbs. (Try to touch the dough as little as possible.)
2. In a small bowl, beat together the egg, cold water, and vinegar with a fork. Add this to the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated.
3. Lightly flour your cutting board or countertop, and transfer the dough to the work surface. Knead the dough with heel of your hand until it comes together. Form it into a flat disk and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.
4. When you are ready to use the dough, roll it out on a floured surface until it is about 1/2 inch thick, and cut it into 6 sections. Roll each section until it is very thin (about 1/8-inch thick) and using a 3-inch round cutter, cut the dough into rounds.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
6. Place a little less than 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each pastry round and fold in half. Seal with a fork, then crimp the edges with your fingers. Arrange the empanadas on a cookie sheet. Combine the egg and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and brush the empanadas with this egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned on top.